So. That was my long-awaited break, just a little old weekend in Malin Head, Donegal. It started off well. We had a nice drive down; it wasn’t that hard to find the house where we were staying, we had a meal in the village of Malin, and then a good brisk walk on Five Fingers Strand. We went back to the house which was very comfortable and enjoyed a few glasses of wine.
I wasn’t feeling that great when I laid my head down to sleep but I put that down to the salad in Malin. Given a choice of more than one place to eat Bert will always pick the one that looks a bit cheap. It’s not that he cannot afford the nicer places, just that he thinks he has to be ironed, shaved and brylcreemed to enter a better establishment. This of course is nonsense. Now that the Celtic Tiger has breathed his last and is mouldering in the grave, any dining place is pleased to welcome a man with a pocket full of Euros and no mind will be paid to his unpolished Converse or to the straw and sawdust sticking to his pixie. But I was too hungry to argue. We entered the café which was staffed with young women with red hair and I’m not talking ginger, I’m talking cerise and they had facial piercings. Sorry. Call me a square, or whatever the young and hip call squares these days, but I hate facial piercings nearly as much as I hate tattoos. We chose our main courses. I decided I didn’t want a whole portion of chips and Bert agreed we should share. I ordered a salad. When will I ever learn? For there are still huge swathes of Ireland that do not understand the concept of salad.
When I think of salad I think of green leafy vegetables, a slice or two of tomato, maybe some scallion or sliced onion. I think of a smear of dressing, vinegary and oily. When cerise-headed, facially pierced girls think of salad, as did their mothers and grandmothers before them, they think of chunks of iceberg lettuce (yuck), hags of tomatoes, lumps of scallion, great shreds of red and green peppers, boiled rice (why?) and a great big fucking boiled egg. The only thing that might come close to a dressing would be the disgusting, glutinous mess they call coleslaw. Needless to say it was stinking but because I’ve been taught that leaving one’s vegetables is a sin I ate as much as I could which amounted to about a third of it. I never lipped the rice or coleslaw and I only had half a boiled egg. I hate myself for it now. How I wished Lily and Rusty were there for they would have eaten all that vegetable rubbish and declared it awesome tucker.
The fact is you’ll never hate a foodstuff as much as when you’re reintroduced to it at a later point. I’ve said I felt queasy and sick when I was going to sleep. Ha! Sleep! Precious little of that I got. Up and down all night saying ‘Hi Ya!’ to every morsel of food I ate that day. I’m never drinking red wine again either. It’s Gordon’s Gin all the way for me now.
The next day I was still feeling crook but I trailed myself out and we went to the actual Malin Head which is supposed to be the most northerly point in Ireland. It’s also happens to be in the South of Ireland but that’s a slightly complicated tale for those who are not overly familiar with early 20th century Irish history. On the way there Bert said,
Do you remember the last time we were here?Were we? Can’t say I do. When was this?
Not that long ago.Are you sure? Nothing looks familiar.
I’m sure.I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been here in my life.
Bert went for an hour’s walk when we were there. I’m afraid I just dozed in the car. And when he came back I asked to go back to the house. I was sick for the whole of the day which I spent in bed. Bert had to go to Carndonagh to get me Imodium for I was that bad. I’ve never taken that drug in my life before but I knew people are advised to pack it when going abroad. I never thought I’d need it in Donegal. But – it worked.
We discussed going home but I wasn’t fit for the journey. Instead I said to Bert to get out and about and make the most of it and he did.
I got up at around seven that evening and ate a plain yogurt. We watched some TV. We had just two channels to choose from which was strangely relaxing. We watched the GAA awards, a documentary about the Irish Republican Brotherhood and The Clancy Brothers in Concert. It was like heading back 50 years in time.
Bert went to the pub and had a brilliant night. He said lots of the good old boys in there were coming down with the vomiting and the diarrhoea but were still knocking back the porter and whiskey. He said it was the sort of place where you might buy a wee heifer of a boy before the night was out. He said he was that drunk he fell into the hedge on his way home. He said the stars were wonderful. I shuffled out to look at them and they were. I thought there wasn’t that much light pollution here but it’s nothing on Malin Head.
Do you mind earlier on when I said we’d been to Malin Head before?Aye.
It wasn’t you. It was Paddy.
We left this morning about eleven o’clock. It was all so beautiful. I had a little cry for what I had missed. Ten miles on Bert said,
Did you clear out the fridge?Oh no! I meant to but I forgot.
And so it was we left the house for the second time that day. This time I didn’t cry.
While Bert was out and about getting to know the locals, this fellow here was the one and only creature I passed the time of day with.